I came across an article the other day entitled, “Things I Hate About the Constitution“. Given that I’m an avid Constitutionalist, I was curious.
The author proceeds to point out various perceived flaws in the Constitution, from a too difficult amendment process to the overuse of juries. I’ll let you go read the article for yourself if you are interested.
He makes some valid points about the Constitution and areas that could be bettered or improved upon. Further, he analyzes the long standing debates that exist between originalists and living constitutionalists. He says this of the debate: “In my view, constitutional theory is unavoidably normative, and no interpretive approach can be justified completely independent of its outcomes.”
He’d be correct.
Interpretations are, by nature, subjective and normative. They wouldn’t be interpretations if they weren’t subjective.
However, while interpretations and understandings of the Constitution are inevitable and do have their place in the world of political and legal arguments, they should always take a backseat to basic and most critical understanding of the Constitution as a standard.
We must all admit that the Constitution is flawed as it is, ultimately, a human document. Glorifying it to something beyond that is foolish and dangerous. The founders were well aware that it was a flawed document, given that they made provisions in the document for it to be amended.
However, it is A STANDARD. As I emphasized in my previous post, without a standard, government is free to do whatever it wants and we have no one and nothing to which to appeal to protect ourselves from government. The Constitution provides us that source of appeal, that protection from an otherwise arbitrary government.
The choice between a flawed standard and no standard at all should be rather easy.
However, interpretations can damage the power of the standard. If a standard can be interpreted to mean almost anything, is it truly a standard?
Put more simply: if someone’s job description can be interpreted and re-interpreted to mean almost anything the person holding the job wants it to mean, is it truly a job description anymore?
There is an inherent danger in continuously interpreting and re-interpreting the Constitution. We weaken its power and diminish its standard. Interpretation will happen. Critiques will happen but we should never weaken the standard to the point that it no longer is a standard.
Unfortunately, our court system is slowly but surely destroying the power through its continued interpretations and reinterpretations. And while the Constitution still holds strong, it is a mere skeleton of a standard now. I re-iterate. A skeleton of a standard is better than no standard but we are on the brink of destroying it all together.
Americans must always be on guard, acknowledging the fact that interpretation is usually just government’s attempt to create a Constitutional license to do something unconstitutional. The negative here is that government distorts the Constitution as it tries to manipulate the Constitution to give the government the power to do something it wants to do. The positive here is that the government still feels the need to find Constitutional justification for its actions.
This is where the power of the Constitution still lies. This is where we come in.
We are the government’s tether to reality. We are the people who call them out for their unconstitutional behavior. The other branches will naturally do this to each other, but not because of a love for the Constitution, but rather because of their love for power and desire to bolster their own branch above and against other branches. This is good and what Madison wanted; however, it is only one half of the equation. We the people are the other half.
So, my response to the people who say the Constitution is flawed and or critique interpretations of it is the following: all of those problems are secondary to the core point of the Constitution, which is to provide a standard against which we can compare government and hold government accountable.
A world without a standard over government is far darker than a world with a standard over government, no matter how flawed that standard is.
The Liberty Belle
P.S. I hope y’all are grasping the point I’ve been hammering the past few posts. I think it’s critical right now for us to stop worshipping the Constitution as some flawless document or exalting any party and start emphasizing to people the critical job of the Constitution as a standard. We need to challenge people to think about a world without the Constitution. What would they feel like if they were pulled over by the police and there was no Constitution? Americans can’t even conceive of this. We’re so spoiled; and yet, this is what is coming and this is the outcome of allowing our government to disregard the Constitution. That is arbitrary power. Friends, no liberal, conservative or independent would say they’d want a police officer, unconfined by the Constitution and able to do whatever they want, to pull them over. It’s truly frightening. We need to emphasize this to our fellow Americans. The point isn’t a party, an ideology, a president, a candidate or any other thing, the point is the desperate need for a standard above government.